-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists say five people
wearing special electrodes were able to control a model helicopter
by their thoughts alone.
The team say the achievement is an important step forward in
efforts to develop robotic devices that could help people who are
paralyzed or have neurodegenerative disorders.
Each of the people in a new study was able to use their thoughts
to control the four-blade helicopter quickly and accurately for a
sustained amount of time as it flew through a series of hoops
around a college gymnasium.
Participants controlled the helicopter while wearing a cap
containing 64 electrodes that recorded the brain's electrical
activity. They sat in front of a screen that displayed video from a
camera on the helicopter, enabling them to see the helicopter's
direction of travel. Their brain activity was relayed to the
helicopter over Wi-Fi.
The three women and two men were told to imagine using their
right hand, left hand and both hands together to instruct the
helicopter to turn right, left, lift and then fall, respectively.
They underwent several training sessions before being asked to fly
the helicopter through two rings suspended from the gymnasium
ceiling, according to the study published June 4 in the
Journal of Neural Engineering.
"Our study shows that for the first time, humans are able to control the flight of flying robots using just their thoughts, sensed from noninvasive brain waves," study lead author Bin He, a professor with the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering, said in a journal news release.
"Our next goal is to control robotic arms using noninvasive brain wave signals, with the eventual goal of developing brain-computer interfaces that aid patients with disabilities or neurodegenerative disorders," He said.
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